Ghana introduces pictorial health warnings on cigarette packs

Accra, Sept. 26, GNA – The Vision for
Alternative Development (VALD), a non-governmental organisation, has commended
the Food and Drugs Authority, (FDA) for the implementation of pictorial health
warning on cigarette packages.

It expressed gratitude to the FDA for keeping
to its commitment to introducing the pictorial warnings on Ghana’s cigarette
packages.

The VALD, which is a non-governmental
organisation into curbing the use of tobacco in the country, gave the
commendation in a statement signed by Mr Labram Musah, the Programmes Director
of VALD, and the National Coordinator of the Ghana NCD Alliance and copied to
the Ghana News Agency on Wednesday.

It said the introduction of pictorial warnings
on tobacco products was highly essential to reaching smokers with low education
and literacy and would help to reduce disparities in health knowledge.

The statement said health warnings on tobacco
packages constituted an important method to informing and educating the public
about the harms of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.

“It is important to also note that Ghana has
many languages, out of which only nine are spoken and written in schools, as
such rolling out cigarettes in Ghana with picture warnings will enable smokers
to appreciate the dangers associated with smoking, other than text only
warning, which previously appeared on Ghana’s tobacco packs,” it said.

The statement said currently, pictorial
warnings on tobacco packages had been adopted and implemented by many African
countries including Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya, Madagascar,
Mauritius, Namibia, Senegal, and Seychelles.

It said health messages on tobacco packages
delivered important information directly to smokers.

“Pictorial warning labels can motivate smokers
to quit, discourage non-smokers from starting and keep ex-smokers from starting
again,” the statement said.

It said pictorial health warnings contributed
in the long-term to reducing tobacco-related morbidity and mortality, hence
improving public health.

The Tobacco Control Measures of the Public
Health Act of 2012 (Act 851) and Tobacco Control Regulations of 2016 (LI 2247)
mandates the tobacco industries to implement pictorial health warnings on all
tobacco products packages in Ghana within 18 months after the FDA has made the
source documents containing the health warnings.

In April 2017, the FDA made the source
documents available to the tobacco industry to work towards implementing the
pictures on the cigarette packages.

The timeline for the implementation of the
health warnings, as approved at a tobacco control stakeholders meeting in 2017,
indicated that by October 1, 2018, the tobacco industry must discontinue sale
of old tobacco products without approved graphic or pictorial health warnings.

Ghana started the implementation of text only
warning on cigarette packages in 2010. The Global Youth Tobacco Survey shows a
downward trend in smoking among junior high school (JHS) students; 3.6 per cent
smoked cigarette in 2009 while 2.8 per cent smoked same in 2017.

However 5.3 per cent of the JHS students smoke
shisha higher than traditional cigarettes in 2017.

The VALD expressed the hope that with the
introduction of pictures on the cigarette packages, the smoking prevalence
would reduce while in coming days the FDA would work with relevant stakeholders
to put in appropriate monitoring framework to effectively monitor the
implementation.

It lauded the Ministry of Health, FDA, Ghana
Health Service, the World Health Organisation country office, the Global
Tobacco Control Community, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and other
stakeholders who contributed to the successful introduction of the pictorial
health warnings.

GNA

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